A few words about Frederic Chopin
Childhood and beginning of his career
Frederic Chopin was born on March 1, 1810 in Warsaw, Poland, from a French father and a Polish mother. At a very young age he began to study the piano and at the age of 8, only one year after his first lesson with Wojciech Zywny (also a violinist) he gave his first official concert at the Radziwill Palace.
He continued his training during his adolescence and finally joined the Warsaw Conservatory in 1826. He wrote his first sonata there only two years later, in 1828, with a perfectionism that later became his trademark. But it was in December 1829 that Chopin began to give his first paid performances.
He composed his first pieces in Poland, especially his 2 Piano Concertos (1830). In spite of a succession of concerts, in particularly the one of March 17, 1830 “Concerto in F minor” with which he made a strong impression, the young prodigy was forced to leave his country, reluctantly.
Indeed, in November 1830, an uprising began, violently repressed and led, at the end of 1831, to Russian Poland being brought to heel. Many members of the Polish army took refuge in France and other countries. It was thus under these tragic circumstances that Frédéric Chopin arrived in France, without being a direct refugee from the uprising.
A new beginning
After a short stint in Vienna, he arrived in Paris in 1831 where he was quickly successful. There he composed several works, mainly for piano, such as 55 Mazurkas, 27 Etudes, 24 Preludes (1838), 19 Nocturnes, 13 Polonaises and 3 Sonatas. Between 1830 and 1832 Chopin composed the Nocturnes (Op.9). A composition in 3 pieces for piano dedicated to his disciple Marie Pleyel, one of the most famous virtuoso pianists of the 19th century.
The distance from his native country undoubtedly exacerbated the composer’s nationalism and allowed works such as Etude op.10 n°12, “Revolutionary” to see the light of day. In Paris he quickly became a friend of musical personalities such as Liszt, Mendelssohn, Ferdinand Hiller, Berlioz and Auguste Franchomme, among others. After his highly successful tours in 1832, Frédéric Chopin ended up being one of the great names among the teachers in Paris.
“Simplicity is absolute success. After playing a large number of notes, more and more notes, simplicity emerges as a reward for art.”
Between sickness and genius
In 1835, when he returned from a trip, his physical condition worsened and these were the first signs of his tuberculosis. Shortly afterwards, in 1836, he met the writer George Sand, and his relationship with the latter gave a social dimension to his stay in Paris.
While he is physically weak, it remains at this period of his life that his compositions will be at their most successful. The composer creates a music that is confusing by its colors and modulations, with a very complex writing. Chopin admired Bach, whose “Well-Tempered Clavier” he knew by heart and made his students work on it. It is in reference to this work that he wrote his 24 Preludes op. 28 in all the major and minor tones of the chromatic scale.
“Bach is an astronomer who discovers the most wonderful stars. Beethoven measures himself against the universe. Me, I seek only to express the soul and heart of man.”
The end of his life
1847 marked the end of his passionate affair with the writer, a rupture that further weakened Chopin. He gave a last Parisian concert at Pleyel on November 16th and finally agreed to tour England in 1848, despite an alarming state of health. He returned to Paris exhausted and died surrounded by his friends on 17 October 1849.
“When heartache turns into disease, we are lost.”